Tide Baseball Has Series At Florida

A boxer needing to get up off the canvass wouldn't want to look up through bleary eyes to see the heavyweight champion of the world poised to deliver a knockout punch. Alabama baseball finds itself in something of that situation.

Although Alabama has led the Southeastern Conference Western Division baseball race since the first weekend of conference play, the Crimson Tide has been reeling in recent weeks. At one time the Crimson Tide was 7-2 in SEC games. Now Bama is 8-7, still tied for the West lead, but on a downward spiral.

This weekend the challenge is about as great as it could be. The Crimson Tide goes to Florida to meet the fifth-ranked Gators for three games. Bama is 25-15 overall. Florida is 28-10 overall and 11-4 in conference games.

The series begins Friday with first pitch scheduled for 7 p.m. EDT (6 p.m. central) from McKethan Stadium in Gainesville The series continues on Saturday, with first pitch scheduled for 6 p.m. EDT (5 central) in a game that will be televised on ESPN2. The series concludes on Sunday with a 1p.m. EDT (noon CDT) start.

In Friday's game, Alabama will pitch right-hander Nathan Kilcrease (4-3 with a 2.62 earned run average) against Florida's Hudson Randall (6-1 with a 1.70 ERA). On Saturday the Tide will go with left-hander Adam Morgan (4-3, 2.62) against Brian Johnson (5-1, 2.42) for the Gators. Alabama has not named a Sunday starter. Florida will go with Karsten Whitson (4-0, 2.38).

Junior shortstop Jared Reaves has the longest active hitting streak for the Crimson Tide heading into the weekend at six games. During the last six games, Reaves is hitting .455 (10-for-22) with five doubles, five RBI and six runs scored. Additionally, he has taken over the team lead with 30 RBI and passed Taylor Dugas for the most doubles on the team with 14.

The Gators lead the conference in hitting (.313) and are tied for the lead in slugging percentage with Kentucky (.443). They are second to LSU in runs scored with 244. On the mound, Florida is third in the conference with a 2.77 team ERA, and opponents are only batting .240 against the Gators pitching staff.

Alabama is in the early stages of eight games on the road. The Tide defeated Samford in Birmingham Tuesday to start the games away from Sewell-Thomas.

Next week, Alabama will play its final midweek game of the season when it travels to No. 19 ranked Southern Mississippi on Tuesday, April 26. First pitch for the game against the No. 19 ranked Golden Eagles is scheduled for 6 p.m. CT from Pete Taylor Park. The Tide wraps up the week with three games at Mississippi State, beginning with a doubleheader on Saturday, April 30, at 2 p.m. CT. The first game of the doubleheader will be televised on SportSouth. The series wraps up with a single game on Sunday, May 1, beginning at 1:30 p.m. CT.

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